Feel Good, Live Good

A few months back, I stumbled upon a project called Perfect Strangers.

Started by Oh Comely, a magazine based out of the UK, Perfect Strangers is an organization matches you up with an individual either from your country or another, and you get to swap packages and letters, and ultimately find a friend in the end.

Days after registration, I was matched up with sweet Christianne, a young newlywed from Michigan who attended Calvin Seminary. Between emails and getting to know each other, I was beyond excited to swap Christmas gifts. Like a stereotypical liberal arts university student, I made her a mix of fun tunes that make you feel good and inspire you to live happier – you could probably call it an indie music starter pack – and I'd like to share it with you too.

xx, Nicole

Let Me Empower You

Earlier today, I saw a post prefacing the ever predictable "new year, new me" posts by empowering others to feel comfortable in their own skin. That you don't need a fancy hairstyle, or the most fashionable clothes to love yourself. That you don't need to seek approval by dying your hair wild colors. I love that. I love seeing others empower others.

But, I want to empower you.

See, I've never been comfortable with the texture of my natural hair until I stepped out of my comfort zone and chopped over four years worth of long hair off. So, go dye your hair wild colors. Go buy that bandana that you don't think you can pull off and add it to your outfit. Go see your favorite guilty pleasure song live in concert, even though you're afraid of what others will think.

I wouldn't be posting this if I didn't chop off my hair. I wouldn't be as confident and comfortable with my truest self — something that will last me for the rest of my life — if I didn't embody spontaneity for a quick, 1-hour hair appointment. Sometimes, you need to embrace a new culture or style to appreciate it, and you'll come to appreciate yourself along the way.

For 2016, make me this promise: Don't hesitate to explore the world, whether geographically or beautifully. You'll wind up gaining confidence. You'll wind up feeling comfortable within the skin your living in. You'll find out how to love yourself, and it's easy as just chasing your inner wildness.

Disposable Cameras = Lasting Memories

Lovely pop queen Bea Miller puts it best in less than 140 characters on Twitter:

Been keeping disposable cameras in my bag wherever I go because I like the idea of getting them developed and having tangible memories.

Simply put, Bea nails the exact reason I've been carrying around disposable cameras for the past 8 months–I love carrying around a camera for a few weeks, turning it in, and looking back at snapshots from weeks ago for the first time.

In today's "instant" generation, I love having something that's the exact opposite (such a rebel, I know).

Here's some of the shots from my adventures from the past 6 months. I share these as:

  1. Inspiration for you to document your life, and
  2. A solid, concrete testament of what happens when you truly find your best pals for life (which is a blog post for another day!)

Enjoy! xx

The 1975, The Script, and Cobra Starship show (Dec. 2014)

My pal Annie and I at a picnic at a local park (Dec. 2014)

On a ferris wheel with pal Ragan at Big Guava Music Festival (May 2015)

Inside a food-truck shaped refrigerator (yes, that's right) to cool down at Big Guava Music Festival (May 2015)

Bad Suns show with pal Crystal (Apr. 2015)

10,000 hits?

A month ago, I created and posted my first playlist on 8tracks simply for accompaniment with the activities of daily life, without thinking about the slightest chance of others listening to my hand-picked mix; but, boy, was I wrong!

Within a week, the upbeat and totally danceable playlist had over 1,000 plays and over 100 likes from other users aside from yours truly (although, I'd like to say the majority of those plays were from my own doing because I'm still obsessed). Consequently, the playlist was "certified gold" by the holy grail itself, 8tracks. LIKE WHAT?

Now, a few days short of a month later, I'm humbly and wildly blown away by the fact that the small list of songs I created to accompany my road trips, homework, and every activity in between has the power to impact over 10,000 lives.

What are you waiting for! Go do the thing a.k.a. listen to the playlist and jam like you've never jammed before!

Xoxo, Nicole